NOTE: If you would like to follow my progress or send cheers during the race, there is info at the end of this post on how to do that.
The Waiting Game
So, now I wait. Or rather, I taper. Tapering is a needed but disconcerting time of training. It’s where you reduce your workouts in mileage and intensity as you get closer to your goal race. In the case of marathon it is usually 2 weeks with the first of those being just a mild reduction and the 2nd week being a much more severe reduction.
This past week I ran my usual 5 days but didn’t do as many miles and I didn’t do a lot of hills. But I did do speed work, even though I wasn’t planning on it.
Over the past weekend we found out that the elder statesman of Tulsa running, Bobby Bomer, had to have emergency abdominal surgery. He leads our weekly workouts at the University of Tulsa track on Tuesday mornings and evenings. I was called to take his place on Tuesday morning. That meant a 4:45am wake up to get there on time. I was planning on just leading the warm up and encouraging people as they ran, maybe doing some light running, but not doing the sprints. But Bobby’s wife Judy was there to help lead so I gave into the temptation and ran. It turned out to be wonderful. It was the first true fall day, with temps in the low 50s as we started. It was refreshing and exhilarating. Later that day I led my usual group on our afternoon run (not speed work) and that same feeling continued. It was cool and dry and we ran strong and fast for the entire time. I was thinking ‘I hope my race is at this temperature!’.
Reducing and Refining
The rest of the week I ran just the mileage I would normally run with my group, nothing extra, nothing intense. I also ran just what Pathways was running on Saturday, 10 miles. I didn’t do any extra before or after. It was odd after so many weeks of continually pushing the weekly miles up to be reducing them.
Aches, Pains and Fences
One of the worst things about tapering is ‘ghost injuries’. I had 2 days this week where I ran with my big toe aching quite a bit. An injury? A problem? Serious? Long Term? What does it mean for my race? Will I be able to run? Then a day later it disappeared. My back was aching, probably will be a problem I am sure. Next morning, it was gone. I felt weak a few afternoons ago. Maybe the flu? A cold? What if I am sick for my race? But the truth was I just needed to eat lunch. What is that all about? It’s about freaking out about every little thing. You have invested so much for so long in running towards this goal that when you are so close you see the tiniest little thing as a potential game changer or ender. It does sometimes happen of course, but the vast majority of time it turns out to be nothing.
The other thing you worry about is doing some other random activity in these taper weeks that will wipe you out. For example, in the 2 weeks before my first marathon in 2010 I rebuilt a fence in my backyard. It had to be done, the fence was falling apart and we had 2 dogs who were about to get out. But it was back-breaking work and I came to the start line of the race with a very sore back. I learned my lesson that day – no heavy lifting, no DIY projects, no fence building in the weeks leading up to the race.
And of course I am constantly checking the weather for that day. What would be my ideal conditions? Probably about 45-50º to start and moving up to 60 or so, with cloud cover and just enough wind to keep the air moving. What does it look like it will be? As of now, it appears it will be about 53º to start moving up to about 70 by the time I finish with a mild wind. It will be part sun, part clouds. That sounds pretty good to me, I’ll take it.
Tomorrow we head off to Washington DC. If you would like to follow me and find out how I am progressing during the race there are a number of ways to do it. Feel free to spread the word to others you know who might be interested.
I suggest the simplest, which is the ‘RUNNER TRACKING’. All you have to do is type in my name or bib number (24944) and put in how you want alerts to come.
A cooler way to follow is to do the ‘MAP TRACK’. It has a map that allows you to see in real-time where I am on the course.
I am also registered with the MOTIGO app. You can record cheers and encouragements and they will be played wherever in the race you tell it to play.
And the very best way to do any of that is to download the MCM app.
That is it for now! Next time you hear from me I will hopefully be tired and smiling with a big medal around my neck!
See you running,